Do passive range of motion exercises lead to quicker postsurgical recovery of canine IVDD?



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PICO Question

In canine patients recovering from surgery for intervertebral disc disease, do passive range of motion exercises, compared to no intervention, lead to a shorter or faster rate of recovery?


Clinical bottom line

Category of research


Number and type of study designs reviewed

Five studies (two randomised controlled trials, two retrospective cohort studies and one retrospective case series) were critically appraised.

Strength of evidence


Outcomes reported

There is no evidence that passive range of motion (PROM) exercises are associated with a quicker postsurgical recovery in the canine intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) patient.


There is a lack of evidence about specific rehabilitation techniques for the postoperative canine IVDD patient. Based on the current data, a multimodal approach, including basic and intense rehabilitation techniques is suggested.


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


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Bruno, E., Canal, S., Antonucci, M., Bernardini, M., Balducci, F., Musella, V., Mussoni, M. & Spinella, G. (2020). Perilesional photobiomodulation therapy and physical rehabilitation in post-operative recovery of dogs surgically treated for thoracolumbar disk extrusion. BMC Veterinary Research. 16(120). DOI:

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Immekeppel, A., Rupp, S., Demierre, S., Rentmeister, K., Meyer-Lindenberg, A., Goessmann, J., Bali, M.S., Schmidli-Davies, F. & Forterre, F. (2021). Investigation of timing of surgery and other factors possibly influencing outcome in dogs with acute thoracolumbar disc extrusion: a retrospective study of 1501 cases. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavia. 63(30). DOI:

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Zidan, N., Sims, C., Fenn, J., Williams, K., Griffith, E., Early, P.J., Mariani, C.L., Munana, K.R., Guevar, J. & Olby, N.J. (2018). A randomized, blinded, prospective clinical trial of postoperative rehabilitation in dogs after surgical decompression of acute thoracolumbar intervertebral disc herniation. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 32(3), 1133–1144. DOI:

Additional Files

Vol. 8 No. 4 (2023): The fourth issue of 2023

Section: Knowledge Summaries

Categories :  Small Animal  /  Dogs  /  Cats  /  Rabbits  /  Production Animal  /  Cattle  /  Sheep  /  Pig  /  Equine  /  Exotics  /